Don’t Let Yourself Be Financially April Fooled!

Don’t Be Financially April Fooled – Wealth Protection l Canny Group

Once upon a time I was a fool…  Before going in to some scams that are out there at the moment and potential ways to protect yourself, I thought I’d go through an instance where I was a fool, through no fault of my own!  As a financial planner, or advisor, it’s important to dictate to clients what we do in an easy to understand manner.  It comes down to the 30 second elevator spiel.  I was dealing with a client on their insurances and enquired as to what they were doing with the rest of their day, and they said they were going to see a financial planner.  I was a little taken aback!  We have put together this article to help you know what questions to ask and what Canny Advisory can to when it comes to being your financial advisors, planners and everything in between, introducing; Don’t Be Financially April Fooled – Wealth Protection l Canny Group.

When I delved deeper, they have only known me as someone that dealt with insurances for them and their friends in the past, and had no idea that as a Financial Planner, or Certified Financial Planner, there was a whole range of advisory services that I could provide them with assistance on.  It made me wonder how many of my current clients knew what exactly it was that I could do for them, and when was a good time to contact me; when something changed in their lives that would help!

What does a Financial Advisory Services business do + what areas can they provide advice in?

Typically, a Financial Advisory Firm can provide you with advice around your financial goals.  The thing is, you might not know what these goals are, or the scope of them, prior to talking with a Financial Planner.

A list of some of the areas that we can provide advice in are:

  • Retirement Planning
  • Advice in relation to Superannuation
  • Estate Planning
  • Investment Management
  • Wealth Protection (Insurance)
  • Tax Planning

As your can see from the above list, it’s not exhaustive and each of those sub-categories can be broken down even further.  The financial planning process is not limited by any stretch of the imagination.  Financial plans can be tailored for all ages, and all potential areas of advice.  They’re a good tool to monitor progress and ensure that you remain on track to achieve what you initially set out to.  Seeking financial advice from financial professionals is one way that you can ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward.

Money Smart has a page that is dedicated to helping you choose a financial advisor, or knowing what to ask for to help your decision making process.

Current scams in the market place

There are so many different scams that are hitting all kinds of people these days, it makes us all very untrusting.  It used to seem that it was merely the elderly that were attacked, and mostly on the landline telephone, but these days most of the scams are targeted to mobile phones and email addresses.

Promises of multi-million dollar inheritances, incorrect login attempts to your online banking, you owing the tax department money with a Sheriff ready to kick down your door, or to a very common one that either someone has tried to log in to your PayPal account or you need to update your PayPal details.  A lot of these emails or text messages will prompt you to go to a link in the message directly, for you to initially login and then update your details.  The trick here is that the website they direct you to is not the official website, meaning you enter in your details, they’ll then enter them into the correct website and you’ll be none the wise.  In some cases, you’ll enter them correct, you’ll get taken to an error page, and then they take you to the correct page so you login in the second time without any issues.

Another big scam at the moment, with the ever rising popularity of cryptocurrency, are the blackmail emails from people that say they’ve caught you doing something you shouldn’t, or have your passwords, and for them to release them back to you, you have to send them a fraction of a bitcoin.  The truth is, these people have your passwords potentially as your email address has been hacked or leaked in a hacking attempt in the past.  I know, for example, that one of my email addresses that I used to register to LinkedIn was release in one of their hacks a few years ago and Dropbox was another.

You can check here if your details have been hacked in the past by typing in your e-mail address.

How to prevent some of these scams?

One of the easiest ways to prevent yourself being scammed is some of the only bank and other websites that require logins and passwords and deal with money transfer is 2FA, or two-factor authentication.  This means that you’ll login with a password, but then also a randomly generated code that expires every 30 to 60 seconds.  These cods can be generated by a by a variety of different Apps of sites.  I know that Google has one, which is phone specific, and there is an App called Authy which can be installed on a desktop or a phone as well.  You just link these accounts (if allowable) to the Apps, which means that without the randomly generated code, no one can log in to your account fully, even if they have your password.  It just adds an important second layer of security to how you operate.  I know that I personally, bank with Bendigo Bank and they have an App that provides a special code when adding new payees or logging in, or on every payment made if you want!

Another important thing to remember is that if you get one of these emails or text messages, never click on their provided link in their contact method to you (text message, email etc.).  Also, go directly to the website that you have bookmarked or saved in your phone or on your computer.  This way the chances of you being re-directed to a hoax site is lessened dramatically.

Always remember the age of adage, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

Canny Advisory + not being an April Fool…

Get in touch with us today if you feel that you’ve been scammed, or if you’d like to make a time to organise a review of your financial situation, so we can start identifying your goals and get your on the path to financial success, safely and surely!

 

Steve Reynold l Certified Financial Planner

BComm DipFS(FP)

Let’s Approach 2021 With A Different (Financial) Outlook

Approach 2021 With A Different (Financial) Outlook l Canny Group

2020 is finally over!  Many have described it as the longest 12 months, or a year to forget.  Worldwide pandemic, panic buying, high employment rates, lockdown restrictions, border closures, increased depression rates and stimulus payment sums up the 2020 year and it has affected every person in the nation.  Fortunately, compared to many other countries around the world, Australia has been relatively successful in battling the effects of Coronavirus.  Despite all the negatives of 2020, there is a positive side.  The extra time has given us the opportunity to stop, think, and review our situation, count our blessings and appreciate the people around us.

With the economy picking back up and the vaccine roll-out, we are hopeful that 2021 will be a better year.  2020 has taught us, it is possible to approach 2021 with a different outlook.  We can look for opportunities to focus on what we really want to achieve in our life and set some plans to get there.

As a woman in finance, I would like to share some of my tips with other women on how to look for opportunities to improve their financial situation.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LOWER INTEREST RATES

Since 2011, interest rates in Australia have been on a decline.  Who would have imagined that we would see banks offering term deposit rates of 0.50% and home loan rates of around 2% or lower.  Why not take advantage of the low interest rate environment to improve your financial situation and reduce your debts.  Some opportunities include:

  • Refinance your debts!

Review your mortgage to see if you can get a better rate from your lender or refinance.  The market is very competitive and if you have a significant mortgage, just refinancing for a better rate, could result in paying less interest and paying off your mortgage faster.

If you have other debts such as a car loan or a credit card, perhaps you could shop around for a better deal.  By locking in a lower interest rate, it may be possible to reduce your loan repayments which will mean more in your pocket.

  • Buy a home!

If you would like to get into the property market to purchase your first home, perhaps now would be a good time to consider whether this is financially possible.  With the First Home Owners Grant and First Home buyers stamp duty reduction, this could be a big help in purchasing your first home.

  • Invest more!

If you are an investor, then lower interest rates may push you to consider other investment options that offer a higher return than cash.  Many people have commented that they saved money in 2020 since they could not travel or spend money, it may be an option to consider investing in some of those savings.

Another option is, rather than paying extra off your home loan, you may choose to use extra funding for investing.  This may be worthwhile if the return you are getting on your investment is higher than the interest rate on your home loan.

REVIEW YOUR SUPERANNUATION

Some people are clueless when it comes to how much they have in super, how it is invested and what fees they are paying.  One reason may be because they are unable to access their super until retirement or age 65, so their mindset is ‘out of sight out of mind’.  What they lose sight of is, superannuation is their money!  It is an investment for the future and the decisions you make now can have an impact on your retirement.

What to look for when you review your superannuation:

  • Investment Options

Your super fund will have a range of investment options.  These options could be cash, conservative, balanced, growth and high growth.  Each option will have a different investment mix and therefore different rates of return.  You need to choose the right investment option for you after considering your stage in life and what the level of risk is that you are willing to accept.

  • Super Contributions

If you are working, it is worth checking to see if your employer is paying the right amount of super for you.  If you have surplus income, you may want to make extra contributions to boost up your retirement savings and reduce your tax.

  • Super Fees

Are you aware of how much fees are deducted from your super balance each year?  Super Funds charge a range of fees which can include; administration fees, investment management fees, performance fees, advice fees, investment switching fees and buy/sell spread fees.  It is common just to look at the administration fees and forget about the rest.

The fees you pay today and over your working years can significantly affect your retirement savings.  As an example, if a 25 year-old has an average income of $61,984 and the average investment return was 6.85% per annum, by paying 0.75% on their account balance per year, they would have $135,802 more in retirement compared to if they paid 1.5% of their balance in fees.

DO YOU HAVE ANY INSURANCE?

According to one of the largest insurers in Australia, only half of Australian’s hold some form of life insurance and many are under-insured.  There is a major gender gap when it comes to life insurance and women.  A recent Finder study revealed that just 33% of women report having any life insurance at all, compared to 48% of men.

What is life insurance and why would you need to consider it?

The reason people take out life insurance is to ensure the family is financially protected in the event of death.  If you pass away and you had life insurance, a lump sum would be paid out that could cover any debts such as a mortgage and replace lost income so the family can continue their lifestyle.  You many think, this is fine if you are equal income earners in the family with your spouse or even the main income earner.  However, if as a women you are not the main breadwinner or you may not have any income as you are a stay-at-home mum, why would you require life insurance?

Did you know that you can list your occupation as a homemaker when applying for life insurance?  Insurers recognise there is value in the unpaid roles of a homemaker.  According to salary.com the value of a stay-at-home mum is $288,000 (US $178,201).

If you are a stay-at-home mum, have you thought about who is going to replace the work you do, or cover your spouse’s income because they had to stop work to care for family?  Having life insurance ensures your family receives a payout so they can pay for childcare, home maintenance, and whatever else you would have done at home full time.

IMPROVE YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION

Why not use this year to review and improve your financial situation now and for the future?  By making small changes along the way, it can make the biggest different for your future.

Get in touch with our team of financial advisors today for a free 30 minute appointment to improve your financial situation.

 

Helen Yau l Manager + Financial Planner

CA, BCom, Dip Fp, SSA

Building Financial Security For The Ones You Love The Most

Canny Advisory l Help In Building Financial Security

BUILDING FINANCIAL SECURITY FOR THE ONES YOU LOVE THE MOST.. In this article, we are going to talk about how you can start building financial security for the people you love the most, your family.  If you have a family, one of your greatest financial fears is most likely the thought of not being able to provide for them.  We all have plans to take family vacations and buy our forever home, but at the end of the day what we are really after is the ability to take care of our family.  For many of us, financial security is our greatest priority.  Financial security is important to us because it gives us the reassurance that no matter what, our family will have the financial resources they need to go about their daily lives.

Let’s discuss the key steps that you can take to start building the financial security your family deserves.  The path towards achieving financial security can be difficult.  Financial security is not the most uplifting or enjoyable of personal finance topics.  That is why most people do their best to avoid these difficult conversations all together.  However, if you follow some of these steps you could be on your way to placing your family in a much better financial position in the future.

 

ESTABLISH // An Emergency Fund!

Life is unpredictable and you never know what might come your way, or what that unexpected event might cost.  That is why it is so important to have cash available in the event of an emergency.

Establishing an emergency fund is an easy way to make sure that regardless of what is thrown your way, you can deal with it immediately and stop it from becoming a financial emergency for you and your family.  This is why most people refer to this type of account as an emergency fund.  You can start to build an emergency fund for your family with a small deposit.  If possible, starting with at least $1,000 would provide your family with a buffer to handle most one-off unforeseen expenses.  It does not matter if you can’t start off with this amount.

What is important is that you build this up over time.  After a while, you might be able to build this up to a point where you have three to six months’ worth of living expenses saved in your emergency fund.  This is a significant milestone as it will help you and your family get through more difficult periods such as unemployment or a medical emergency.  It is important that these funds are readily accessible and safe.

 

ORGANISE // Your Estate Planning!

Estate planning may be the least enjoyable of personal finance topics for most people.  However, proper estate planning is vital as it ensures that your family is cared for both financially and physically if you die.

The most important aspects of a good estate plan include establishing a will, reviewing and nominating beneficiaries and establishing a power of attorney.  Establishing a will is by far one of the most important things that you can do.  It is important to establish a will even if you do not have any money to pass on, because a will allows you to name guardians for your children.

Reviewing and nominating beneficiaries on your accounts is also important.  Beneficiaries are the people who will inherit your money if you die.  It is important to check the beneficiaries nominated for your superannuation to ensure they are up to date.  These nominations should always be kept up to date and align with your estate planning wishes.

You should also consider establishing a power of attorney. This nominates someone to make decisions on your behalf in case you are not able to.

So how do you get these things in place? You can meet with an Estate Planning Lawyer here at Canny Group who can walk you through the process and help you to get your estate planning affairs in order.

REVIEW // Your Life Insurance!

The purpose of life insurance is to make sure that the people you love and who are financially dependent on you have all the money they need to provide for themselves, no matter what.

If you are a working parent, this might mean having enough life insurance to replace the income your family depends on.  If you are a stay-at-home parent, this might mean providing the resources needed to replace all of the care you provide for your family.  Life insurance can also be used to pay off debt, pay off your mortgage, or fund your children’s education.

REVIEW // Your Income Protection!

If you are in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, your greatest financial asset is most likely your ability to earn an income now and in the future.

It is your income that is going to pay your bills, pay off your debt and allow you to save for your family’s future.  Unfortunately, there’s a high probability that at some point a medical issue will prevent you from earning this income for at least a period of time, if not permanently.

According to WebMD, there is about a 33% chance of you becoming disabled at some point before you retire.  Interestingly, the leading causes of disability are probably not what you would think. The most common causes are conditions such as arthritis, back pain, heart disease, cancer and depression.  This is where income protection insurance comes in.

If health issues keep you from working for an extended period of time, your income protection insurance will replace some of your income, often for years or even until you are 65 years old if necessary.  This money from your income protection insurance would allow you to keep paying your bills and keep saving, even if you are not able to work due to illness or injury.  However, there are a few variables when it comes to income protection and it can be complicated.

 

If you need help with reviewing your personal insurance needs, including Death, TPD, Income Protection and Trauma cover, you can arrange an appointment with a Financial Adviser here at Canny Group who can help you with your personal insurance needs as part of a holistic financial plan.

We know that financial security is not the most exciting of personal finance topics, but if you handle it right, you can ensure that your family will always have the financial resources they need.  It is one of the best and most selfless ways you can let your family know how much you love them.

Bigger Picture Financial Goals

Canny Advisory l Helping You With The Bigger Picture Financial Goals

Canny Advisory l Helping you with the bigger picture financial goals – when it comes to financial goals, its best to attack them head on – they are the targets and priorities we set in relation to how we spend and save our money.  They can be big, small, short term, long term and everything in between.  Where we are in our life stage often helps dictate what our goals are.

The new year is a common trigger for us to think about what we want to achieve in the coming months, years and beyond, although we would encourage you to follow the guidelines and tips at any time when it comes to figuring our what your financial goals are!

Think about what is important to you and all the things you wish you could have or do, from the smallest thing to the largest, even if they seem silly and unachievable.  Then start to sort these goals/wishes by those that can be achieved fairly quickly and easily, those will take longer and require more planning, and those that need to become a long-term strategy.

It is recommended you follow the SMART format for your goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable Relevant. Timely.

S is for SPECIFIC – be as clear as you can with your financial goal/s.  Follow the five “W” rule, ask yourself; who, what, when, where and why?

M is for MEASURABLE – how are you going to measure your progress?  How will you know when you have reached your goal?

A is for ACHIEVABLE – regardless of whether your goal is big or small, it needs to be attainable.  You may lose focus and enthusiasm pretty quickly if you have set yourself too high a target because you may feel that you are getting nowhere, and all of your sacrifices are for nothing.  Stretch yourself but ensure your goal can be met.

R is for REALISTIC – similar to the above, make sure your goal is realistic otherwise you run the risk of losing motivation.  Make sure you can commit to your goal for the duration.

T is for TIMELY – when do you expect to achieve your goals by?  Having an open-ended goal without an end date will challenge your motivation, especially if you feel there is no end in sight!

WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS?

Having a financial goal will inspire you to reach your target.  Without a goal we tend to just keep going about our business without a financial purpose and will spend money on items that we want but potentially do not need.  And if you are spending within your means, there is no real problem with that, except you will not be able to move forward financially.

Think about this: instead of buying a coffee every day, if you invested that $25 per week you would have saved over $4,000 within three years – there’s a new lounge suite!  In five years, you will have saved over $7,000 (or a year of school fees!), $11,000 for an overseas holiday in seven years, or $29,000 for a new car in 15 years’ time.  This is just an example of getting a result by having a plan and sticking to it!  Your goal may be on a bigger scale, for example you may be saving for a house deposit for preparing for retirement.  However, the principal remains the same: set yourself a target and have a plan on how to get there.  You may “fall of the wage” occasionally – that’s ok, as long as you jump straight back on!

WHERE DO YOU START?

By following these four steps;

  1. YOU NEED TO START WITH A BUDGET! It is impossible to have an achievable goal without knowing your starting position.  Capture all income and expenses to ascertain your current cash flow surplus (or deficit) and also to take stock of exactly where your money is going.  Are there any opportunities to save money before you even start with your new goal(s)?  Perhaps cancelling any subscriptions that are no longer relevant, or getting a better deal on your phone plan and/or utilities.  A budget will illustrate your financial limits (remember your goals need to be achievable).  There are many free apps available that track your spending for you – simply link your bank accounts to the app and the hard work is done for you.
  2. HAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND! Do not stretch yourself to the limit with your financial goals.  It is very important to maintain a safety net at all times in case of an emergency expense or sudden loss of income.
  3. PAY OFF ANY CREDIT CARDS! This may be your goal – unpaid credit card balances are charged excessive interest.  The advantages of saving for a financial goal must be compromised by having to pay unnecessary interest and bank fees on bad debt.
  4. DEVELOP GOOD SPENDING + SAVING HABITS! As good as your intentions to reach your financial goals may be, sometimes things happen that are out of our control.  Perhaps there is an economic downturn, or perhaps your circumstances change unexpectedly.  Sometimes “life” happens and when it does, good habits will hold you in good stead to be able to get back on track as soon as circumstances allow.  In terms of an economic downturn, again, good habits and sticking to your plan will mean that you will remain on track regardless of macroeconomic events happening around you.  And in the worse case scenario where you are relying on your investments to provide income, a good savings history will mean you have a financial buffer to fall back on until the market rebounds, or at least to “take the pressure off”.

GIVE IT A GO!

Have a go at setting yourself some financial goals following these guidelines.  Remember to track your progress to keep yourself motivated.  We would love to hear about your results.  Or, alternatively, if you find that you were not able to reach your goals, we still want to hear about it.  Together we may be able to work out what went wrong and work on the next steps.

EG // do you need to break you goals down into smaller, more achievable parts?  Or do you need to reassess your goals all together?

Canny Advisory l Helping you with the bigger picture financial goals, we want to hear about all of your success and your attempts as the year progresses, get in touch so we can help.

 

Summer Savings l For An Endless Summer

2020, the year that was, then wasn’t, then was, then wasn’t again.  It is certainly a year to remember and to be forgotten.  Physically, emotionally, mentally and financially very testing for different reasons.  Bring on 2021!  We’ve pulled together some Summer Savings for an endless summer you really deserve!

One of the main things that I’ve been focusing on with my clients during the pandemic was budgeting.  Things became a lot tighter, and people had to really focus on what to spend and where.  Obviously, with the restrictions, it was a lot easier in some cases of where to cut expenses, but I don’t know about you, but we seemed to be getting packages delivered every few days!

BUDGETING

The important thing now that the restrictions are easing, and we return to some kind of (new) normal, is that we don’t go spending crazy!  It’s especially harder with Christmas around the corner.  We have to be mindful that we don’t undo any of the budgeting skills we’ve learnt by overspending, and accumulating a pile of credit card debt to start 2021.

According to the RBA in December 2018, spending on credit boomed to $30M.  If you calculate that on average, it is estimated that 27% of people will still be paying off this debt two years later, the interest accrued on this alone, is in excess of $100M.  This is why you can’t get too far ahead of yourselves, as you don’t want to ruin your summer, and the start of the year.

CREDIT CARDS

For those with credit cards, there is always the option of looking at those companies that let you roll over debt on to a 0% interest repayment for a period of time.  What you can do then, is every repayment you make, you are paying off 100% principal.  For example:

  • EDWINA had a $2,000 debt that was rolled over with a 0% interest rate for 18 months
  • Budgeting, she could pay $111 per month, and ensure that that debt was cleared entirely in that interest free period.

As a comparison;

  • PHOEBE had a $2,000 debt with a 17% interest rate
  • Budgeting, she could pay the minimum repayments on the debt and it would take 17 years to fully pay off that card.

This path is not trouble free though, because in some cases, any spending that occurs on these cards get placed behind the 0% interest rollover, meaning that you will not be paying off the debt that has high interested accrued on it.

SAVE SAVE SAVE!

A fun way to get the kids in to saving I’ve found useful is the Coke Bottle challenge.  Basically this is where you collect your $2 and keep them in a used (and cleaned) Coke bottle.  People have done the testing;

  • 600mL bottle you can get around $1,000 saved
  • 1.25L and 2L varieties, you can save $1,900 and almost $3,000 respectively

You can have them do it individually, or as a family and put it towards a holiday now that the pandemic is basically over!

Another one I like is where you start out by saving $1 in week one, $2 in week two, $3 in week three for example, for each week of the year.  By doing this, you will accumulate $1,378 over the year.  A fun way to do it is have a tally board off and cross off each donation.  That way you can spread out the weeks that you have to pay more in, as your budget dictates, especially as where you have November/December payments where money may be tighter due to upcoming Christmas.

UPDATE YOUR BENEFICIARIES!

Lastly, I’ve had a few cases recently where new clients have had no or invalid binding death nominations on their life insurances and superannuation funds.

Superannuation is a non-estate asset, so unless you have a beneficiary that is your Estate, your Will will not deal with your superannuation benefits.  This causes issues at time of claim, which is already a tough enough time for your loved ones, without delays and trouble with accessing funds at a time where it is urgent.  Take 5 minutes and check to make sure that you;

  • Have a beneficiary listed +
  • Make sure that it is a valid beneficiary

Give us a call to discuss whether or not the beneficiary is valid or not because your nominated superfund will not tell you if you have listed an invalid beneficiary.  Naming the incorrect person can be very costly!  Our team of experts can help you ensure you’re not making unknown costly decisions, get in touch now and we can help you with your Summer Savings for a stress-free endless summer you wont forget!

Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year, and we’ll see you in a hopefully brighter and better 2021.

 

Steve Reynolds – Certified Financial Planner

BComm, Dip.FS(FP)

Spring Cleaning Your Finances

Canny Advisory l Help To Spring Clean Your Finances

SPRING CLEANING YOUR FINANCES

Who doesn’t love spring? The days are longer, the weather is getting warmer, and flowers and trees are starting to blossom.  And, it is often a time to clean those things we don’t do regularly.  I am going to suggest it is also a great time to spring clean your finances!  Canny Advisory l Help to spring clean your finances and here’s how:

  • Take stock of your current position by completing a budget. There are many free apps available that link to your bank account and do all the hard work for you!  They automatically categorise your spending into different segments.  If you notice an error, it is easy to reassign the transaction to the correct category and your app will remember the next time.
  • De-clutter financial paperwork around the house. You only need to keep tax related documents for seven years.  You could even go one step further and save the remaining required documents electronically.
  • Review your life insurance policies! How much cover do you need?  Do you have enough?  Do you still have insurance cover inside super?  Many people inadvertently lost their insurances held inside inactive super funds or funds with smaller balances when some sweeping rules were introduced during the past couple of years.
  • Consolidate bank accounts. If you have multiple accounts, is there a specific purpose? If there is no valid reason, simply your affairs and potentially save on bank fees in the process.
  • Review current debts. Have you approached your lender for a better rate? If you have credit card debt, can you switch to an interest free one until you pay it off?

Canny Group have an army of financial advisers and we are more than happy to help you give your finances a spring clean!  All you need to do it get in touch.

 

Samantha Butcher – Financial Adviser

BComs Dip FS

Financial Health + Wellness – Does It Matter?

Canny Advisory l Does Financial Health + Wellness Matter?

Canny Advisory l Does financial health + wellness matter?  We dive in to this as many of us are aware of the importance of improving our physical and emotional health. We have heard it many times, that regular exercise and eating balanced and healthy meals can result in long term health benefits. But did you know there is a direct correlation between our physical well-being and financial health?  

What is financial health and why is it important to a happy and successful life?  

Financial health is a term used to describe the state and stability of an individual’s personal finances and financial affairsGood financial health is about taking control of your finances, having the financial freedom to make choices now, and in the future, and being ready to cope with unforeseen changes to your financial circumstances, such as job loss. It is important to review your financial health as poor financial health can lead to financial stress. Stress in itself is not necessarily harmful but when we experience prolonged financial stress, it can affect our physical and mental health.  Financial stress can create emotional exhaustion, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and can affect our relationships with family and friends.  

Understanding your financial situation is the first step to improving your financial health. Below are 6 strategies to improve your financial health. 

1. KNOW YOUR BUDGET

If you don’t already have one, create a budget to help you plan your expenses and identify areas where you can cut back on. For example, can you cancel memberships you no longer use? Work out what are your needs and wants and avoid buying under stress or impulse. Stick to your budget even though your income increases. Do an annual health check on utilities, insurance, phone bank charges, and mortgage to ensure you are not paying for expenses any more than you need to. 

2. SET SAVINGS GOALS

Once you have worked out your budget, work out a savings plan. Perhaps you are saving for a house deposit, new investment, or for a holiday. Saving for something takes time and its important to be realistic about how long it will take. But having a savings plan and sticking to it will help you reach your savings goal sooner. It will also give you a sense of achievement and satisfaction that you have worked hard for something without needing to borrow funds. Some people found setting up automatic transfers to a separate savings account which they could not easily access was helpful. 

3. HAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND

Do you have an emergency fund for that rainy day that you have set aside to access in the case of unexpected costs, such as a loss of employment, major repairs, or medical emergency? Generally, it is recommended to set aside 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses for your emergency fund.  

4. PRIORITISE HIGHER INTEREST DEBT

 Credit cards and personal loans often have higher interest rates that are not tax-deductible and therefore considered bad debt. Focus on paying off these debts first or if possible, consider consolidating the debt to reduce what you pay in fees and interest. 

5. PAY MORE THAN THE MINIMUM

Your home loan is also another bad debt. Consider reviewing your home loan to ensure that you are getting the best deal on the market and look at whether you can increase your repayments on a weekly or fortnightly basis. By increasing your minimum repayments and making home loan repayments weekly or fortnightly rather than monthly you can significantly reduce the interest you are paying in the long run and repay your debt faster. 

6. SEEKING HELP

If you are feeling overwhelmed, remember it’s ok to ask for support. You may want to seek professional help from a Financial Planner or avail yourself of free financial counselling offered by community organisations, community legal centres, and some government agencies.  Canny Group has a team of financial advisers that are ready and willing to help you when and where you need it, just get in touch!

 

Helen Yau – Manager + Financial Planner

CA, BCom, Dip Fp, SSA

Financial Mistakes To Avoid During A Crisis

Financial Mistakes To Avoid During a Crisis – Canny Group

Although none of us could anticipate the world going into lock down due to a pandemic, I cannot help but wonder how many of us were financially prepared for a crisis.  Prepared or not, I have witnessed some mistakes that people are making as a result of Covid-19 so we have put pen to paper to help with financial mistakes to avoid during a crisis – Canny Group

1. MAKING EMOTIONAL FINANCIAL/INVESTMENT DECISIONS

When the share market suffers sharp falls, it is a natural reaction for many to panic, or at least lose confidence in the market.  However, history shows that after every financial crisis, the market experiences a recovery.  It is important that you regularly review your investment strategy and stick with it for the long term, rather than make rash decisions as a result of market fluctuations.  When you sell assets during a downturn, you are essentially crystallising that loss.

2. ACCESSING YOUR SUPER EARLY DUE TO COVID-19

This measure was introduced to provide relief for those experiencing genuine hardship as a result of Coronavirus, but have you considered the long-term effects?  Depending on your age and current super balance, accessing the maximum $20,000 under the temporary Covid-19 early access to super could end up resulting in a loss of up to $100,000 by the time you retire.  Also, if the withdrawal results in your fund being left with $6,000 or less, this may result in a loss of insurance cover also.

3. NOT HAVING AN EMERGENCY FUND

Everyone will have a different amount they are comfortable with having access to any point in time for those unplanned expenses.  Ideally, you would have enough to cover between three and six months of non-discretionary expenses.

4. NOT HAVING A BUDGET

Having control over your expenses and having an understanding of where your money is going, will hold you in good stead at all times, but particularly during a financial crisis.  Knowing where you could save money during difficult times can help reduce the possibility of increasing household debt.

5. NOT HAVING A WILL

Over half of Australians do not have a will.  Passing away intestate creates havoc for your loved ones.  Establishing a will is a simple process and help to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Our team at Canny Group are here to help you and support you with all financial aspects of your life.  Nobody was able to predict what a year 2020 would be, but what we are able to do now (if you haven’t already) is plan ahead and do it the right way.  Get in touch with our team to find out how we can help you set and achieve your financial goals.

 

Samantha Butcher – Financial Adviser

BComs Dip FS

Staying Motivated With Your Money

When it comes to our finances, it’s easy to lose sight of our goals and become demotivated when unexpected events derail our plans.  It’s especially difficult during times like these where there’s likely more uncertainty and concern for our financial futures than ever before. In this article, we’ll touch on four ways to stay motivated with your finances in these trying times and staying motivated with your money.

1. REVISIT YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS

In order to improve any area of our life (including our finances), we need to have a strong ‘why’ associated with our goals to stay motivated.  When setting financial goals, it’s important that we understand and define the reason behind the goal and how it will positively influence our life.

For example, will becoming debt free mean that we’ll have more surplus income to save and invest for our future?  Does contributing more to superannuation now mean that we’ll be able to afford a more comfortable lifestyle in retirement?  It’s important to focus on these reasons and remind ourselves of why we set our financial goals in the first place, if we hope to stay motivated, especially during difficult times.

2. BREAK DOWN YOUR GOALS

We often overestimate what we can achieve in one year and underestimate what we can achieve in five years.  We set audacious, sometimes unrealistic goals that cause us to become demotivated when we fall short of achieving them.  We feel excited and motivated when we set our financial goals, only to lose sight of them when unexpected life events occur.  If you feel that the financial goals you have set for yourself no longer seem achievable, a useful strategy to consider is to break these goals down into smaller, more achievable goals.

For example, you may have set a goal to pay off $5,000 of credit card debt this year.  If this goal now seems unachievable, set a new goal to pay off $2,500 this year and contact your lender to assess your options and see if you can negotiate a lower interest rate.  By breaking down your goals in this way, you’ll continue to make progress towards your larger goals while accomplishing important milestones to help you stay motivated.

3. REMAIN OPTIMISTIC

When our financial plans don’t work out as we hoped they would, we can become demotivated and feel hopeless about our financial situation.  It’s easy to stay positive when things are going well, but it becomes more difficult to maintain the same outlook in the face of adversity.  That’s why it’s especially important to take the time to identify reasons to remain positive and optimistic during tough times.

Start by acknowledging all of the financial goals you’ve already accomplished.  It’s important to reflect on what you’ve already achieved and be proud of your accomplishments.  It’s also important to identify things in our life that we’re grateful for.  This doesn’t have to be related to our finances, but it’s essential for our motivation to find reasons to remain optimistic.  This will allow us to shift our focus away from the negative and towards the positive, providing us with a more optimistic outlook on our financial future as we strive to maintain motivation towards our goals.

4. SEEK ASSISTANCE

When our motivation is dwindling and we’re finding it difficult to remain positive about our financial situation, often the best thing we can do is to seek help.  You don’t have to go through tough times alone.  Financial support is available to help keep you on track during times like these.  Our team of Financial Advisers at Canny Group are here to help with any questions you may have about your financial situation, Centrelink entitlements or retirement planning.  You may also wish to speak to a Financial Information Service Officer at Services Australia for free confidential, financial information.

If you need any help or financial advice, please get in touch with us and we would be happy to assist you!

 

Chris Graham – Client Services

COVID-19 + Accessing Your Super Early

As of 20 April 2020, people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible to apply to access up to $10,000 of their super in FY 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in FY 2020-21.

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE?

You can apply to access your super if you meet one or more of the following requirements:

  • you are unemployed
  • you are eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment [which includes the single and partnered payments], special benefit or farm household allowance
  • on or after 1 January 2020, either
    • you were made redundant
    • your working hours were reduced by 20 per cent or more
    • If you are a sole trader, your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20 per cent or more

If you meet these requirements and decide to withdraw super, you won’t pay tax on super you withdraw. It won’t affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

HOW DO YOU WITHDRAW SOME OF YOUR SUPER?

You can register your interest today through myGov. Applications open 20 April 2020.

People who are eligible will be able to apply online [through myGov] to access up to $10,000 of their super between 20 April and 30 June 2020. Applications to access up to a further $10,000 will be open from 1 July until 24 September 2020.

ASSESS ALL OF YOUR OPTIONS FIRST

Before you withdraw super, it’s important to assess all of the options available to you. Access Government assistance and talk to your bank or lender about how they can help.

GOVERNMENT PAYMENTS

As part of the COVID-19 response, there are specific Government payments to help you:

  • Income support payments – crisis payments and a temporary fortnightly $550 coronavirus supplement
  • Household support payments – two automatic $750 Economic Support Payments
  • JobKeeper Payment – $1,500 a fortnight for 6 months may be available to employers to keep paying eligible employees whose hours have been reduced

CONTACT YOUR BANK

All banks and lenders have hardship teams ready to help customers in tough times.

You may be able change the terms of your loan, or temporarily pause or reduce your repayments for 6 months.

CHECK YOUR CURRENT SUPER BALANCE + CONSIDER THE IMPACTS ON YOUR INSURANCE

Your super balance as displayed through myGov may be as at 30 June 2019. Your super balance may have changed since then, so it’s a good idea to check your current balance by getting in contact with your super fund.

It’s also important to consider the impacts that withdrawing some of your super may have on your insurance. More than 70% of Australians that have life insurance hold it through super. If your super balance falls to zero or is too low, you may lose your life and income protection cover.

CONSIDER THE IMPACT ON YOUR RETIREMENT SAVINGS

At a time when you may be struggling to cover basic costs such as rent, groceries and utility bills, a payment of $10,000 or even $20,000 could be a very welcome injection of cash. However, it’s important to remember that withdrawing some of your super has the potential to make a significant difference to your level of income in retirement.

Your super is your retirement savings. Consider what impact withdrawing super today will have on your retirement by using the simple superannuation calculator available on the moneysmart.gov.au website to work out how much super you’ll have when you retire.

According to Ben Marshan, Head of Policy and Standards at the Financial Planning Association of Australia [FPA], “Conservatively, every $1,000 that you have in super at age 30 will be worth about $4,500 at age 60. If you take $1,000 out now, you have to put in $4,500 over the next 30 years to get back to the same position. Financially, for a lot of people that can be a massive struggle and they’ll never actually catch up.”

WE ARE HERE TO HELP

If you need assistance, our financial advisers at Canny Group are available to help you navigate these changes and discuss your current financial situation, superannuation and retirement savings in more detail.

 

Chris Graham – Client Services

Market Downturns + Your Retirement Savings

Market Downturns + Your Retirement Savings l Canny Group

The Coronavirus [COVID-19] has had a significant impact on financial markets and global asset prices.  With wider economic and social disruption now evident and expected to continue in the short-term.  We understand that you may have concerns about the effects this pandemic and subsequent disruptions may have on your superannuation balance.  That’s why we’re going to talk about how to remain calm amid this crisis and avoid becoming an ‘April Fool’ when it comes to your retirement savings.  Let’s talk about Market Downturns + Your Retirement Savings l Canny Group

CONSIDERATIONS for investors?

It’s important to remember that superannuation is and always has been a long-term investment.  With that in mind, long-term performance is one of the key factors to consider during events like this.  While it’s confronting to see the global market experience a downturn of this scale, we remain confident this trend will reverse, as we have seen on previous occasions.

There’s no doubt this Coronavirus pandemic is a serious event.  However, as a result of this, we’re likely to see global fiscal stimulus, low valuations on equities and low interest rates for a long time.  Another thing to bear in mind is that the world economy has experienced and overcome many challenging events over the last 100 years, including World War I and World War II, the Spanish flu, the Great Depression and more recently the 2008 Global Financial Crisis [GFC].  The below graph demonstrates how shares climb a “wall of worry” over many years with numerous events pulling them down periodically.  As we can see, the long-term trend of shares is ultimately upward while providing greater returns than other more stable assets.  The takeaway message from this is that periods of volatility are the price we pay for higher longer-term returns from the share market.

Australian Shares "Wall of Worry" - Source ASX, AMP Capital
Australian Shares “Wall of Worry” – Source ASX, AMP Capital

WHAT CAN I DO… to protect my superannuation?

We mention the above because as we experienced during the 2008 Global Financial Crisis [GFC], many investors are now electing to switch their superannuation investments to cash or very defensive options in search of lower volatility and greater stability.  Unfortunately, it’s near impossible to predict when market confidence will return and recover.  As a result, efforts to mitigate risk by attempting to time market movements simply lock-in, and in many cases, magnify losses.  For example, the share market fell some 40% in 2008-9, but recovered near all of the fall in the following 12 months, and subsequently went on to exceed the pre-GFC levels.

The Coronavirus pandemic has escalated rapidly during the early months of 2020, resulting in the fastest share market drop of this magnitude in history.  It has left us all questioning how long this will last and when global markets will rebound and return to pre-COVID-19 levels.  The sharp market falls and headlines blaring that billions of dollars have been wiped off the share market are stressful for all of us.  It’s only natural to want to take action and do something about it to protect your retirement savings.  However, if history is any indication, those who are unlikely to draw on their superannuation in the short-term are often best to take no action.  We know it may seem counter-intuitive, but panicking and switching your superannuation investments to cash or very defensive options in the midst of a market downturn can lock-in losses and significantly impact your retirement savings in the long-run.

In times like this, it’s often best to turn down the noise.  We have always recovered, and we’re confident that we will come through this crisis as we have in previous times.  With this in mind, we encourage you to consider your immediate and long-term requirements.  As always, you should also continually consider your own objectives, financial situations and needs which are not addressed in this general article.  If you have any concerns or queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will discuss your personal circumstances in more detail.

Stay healthy + safe!

 

Chris Graham – Client Services

Super Women

Super Women – Retirement Made Easy l Canny Group

RETIREMENT!  The very thought of it appeals to many hardworking persons.  They think about a time for doing the things that bring them pleasure, recreation and fun.  Sadly, many, in particularly women, will not have sufficient superannuation savings to fund the lifestyle they are hoping for in retirement.  We have put together what you need to know in regards to, Super Women – Retirement Made Easy l Canny Group

On average, women retire with 39% less super than men and surprisingly an estimated 40% of older single retired women live in poverty in retirement.  This group of single retired women are the fastest growing cohort of homeless people in Australia.  What are the reasons for this?  Australia’s gender pay gap is currently 13.9% so on average, women earn less than men and since compulsory employer super is based on wages, women will have less in super in retirement.  Women are also more likely to take time off work for maternity leave and to care for their families.  As a result, a lower superannuation balance may mean a reliance on receiving a government pension.  For some, this may limit their independence and affect their quality of life.

Alan Lakein, a well-known author on personal time management said, “Planning is bringing the future into the present, so you can do something about it now.”

What little steps can you take now to prepare for the kind of retirement you want?

  1. CONSOLIDATION… Do you have multiple super funds?  If so, consolidating your super will likely reduce the management fees you are paying to different funds.
  2. INVESTMENT CHOICE IN SUPER… Most super funds allow you to choose from a range of investment options and asset classes.  These may include, growth, balanced, conservative and cash.  Do you know what investment options are available to you and have you reviewed how your super is invested?  Your investment choice will affect the earnings in your super and ultimately will impact the balance you have in super in retirement.
  3. INSURANCE IN SUPER… Most super funds offer life, total permanent and disability and income protection insurance for their members.  Premiums are deducted from your super to pay for your insurance cover.  Have you reviewed your level of insurance cover?  Do you know if you are over or under insured?  Do you know how much you are paying in insurance premiums for your cover?
  4. CONTRIBUTIONS… You can boost your super and get the power of compounding to work for you by making additional contributions.  If you make personal [after tax] contributions, you may be eligible for the super co-contribution and the low-income super tax offset of up to $500 each.  You can also salary sacrifice part of your salary and have it paid to your super fund.  By salary sacrificing to super, you may be able to reduce your tax because you are only paying 15% tax on your contributions you make rather than your marginal tax rate.  Salary sacrifice to super is considered employer contributions so its important to ensure that you don’t exceed the annual contribution cap of $25,000 for concessional contributions.  From 1 July 2019, if your super balance is less than $500,000 and your employer contributions have not exceeded $25,000 for the year, you are able to carry forward the unused part of the contribution cap for up to 5 years.  This may be a valuable opportunity for those who suddenly have a lump sum assessable income resulting from a disposal of a property.

If you would like to know more or come in for a free 30 minute appointment to speak to one of our team on how you can make the most of your superannuation, get in touch here!

 

Helen Yau – Manager + Financial Planner

CA, BCom, Dip Fp, SSA